Managing our kids’ behaviour

For most of us who are parents, family is extremely important to us, and we all want to raise our kids to be their best. One of the most challenging aspects of parenting is working out how to discipline kids and manage their difficult behaviours. Behaviours such as:

  • Tantrums
  • Nagging and whining
  • Fighting between siblings
  • Mysterious ‘deafness’ when asked to do something
  • Conflict over games and devices
  • Saying things that are upsetting eg ‘I hate you!’
  • Problems with sharing and taking turns

If you go to the self-help section of your bookshop or library you will see a multitude of books about how to manage your child’s behaviour. Each expert advocates a different approach, varying from permissive and anything goes, to strict and regimented. What is more, as parents we frequently face judgment and criticism about our parenting choices especially if our kids have difficult behaviours.

Why do people get such a charge out of criticizing the parenting of others? You can see them flashing the evil eye at the young mother in the supermarket as her toddler has a meltdown in the Tim Tam aisle… Here’s the other thing about those staring at the young mother or father with such naked hostility: while they are all agreed that you are a baaaaad parent, each will have a different idea about what you should be doing. Some will be saying ”Why doesn’t she smack that child?”, while others will be saying: ”She threatened to smack him – that’s the problem.” The only thing they agree on is that ”parents should take more responsibility.”Richard Glover, ‘The Taming of the Toddler’. Sydney Morning Herald, May 14 2011

Many of us have had unhelpful ‘advice’ from relatives, teachers, friends or even random people on the street. It is therefore not surprising that we struggle with confidence in our parenting, and blame ourselves when our kids are having difficulties. It is so demoralising when it feels like you are doing your best but it just isn’t working. Find out more about why some children have particular problems with behaviour here.


Things you can do to help your child

  • Start with the positives. When things aren’t working at home it is easy to get stuck in a negative cycle where you focus on what is going wrong, but may ignore things that are going right. We know that kids thrive on praise and positive attention. Try an experiment where you make positive comments about any (tiny) things your kids are doing well, behaviours you want to encourage. This can sometimes start to turn things around.
  • Talk to the other people involved in your child’s care (such as your partner, grandparents or babysitters). Talk about what is working and what isn’t working, and if possible, try to devise a consistent approach.
  • This stuff is complicated. Talking to a psychologist can help because we are able to help you better understand the problem, and brainstorm solutions you may not have thought of.

At the Northwest Psychology Practice we take this approach:

  • As the parent, you are the expert in your own child. You have known them from the very beginning, have spent the most time with them and understand them best.
  • Our job as psychologists is to help you parent your kids in accordance with your own values. We want to help you to find effective parenting practices that are tailored for your family, that focus on the things you think are important.
  • We aim to collaborate with you, to help you tweak what you are doing so that you can better manage your child’s behaviour and build strong relationships with your kids.

Think we can help? Get in touch.

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